Author: Michael Bergamo
This often overlooked and simple factor goes right past a lot of peoples heads and I really don't know why. Yes, sharks are opportunistic and have been know to feed on almost anything at times, but this isn't always the case. A lot of people think it's as simple as throwing a bloody or dead piece of fish in the ocean and waiting for JAWS to swim by. Well I will be the first person to tell you , that sharks are far smarter and pickier than people make them out to be. After all they didn't get big being dumb and they certainly are not scavengers feeding on trash all day. These are lean, mean fish eating machines and idk where the notion of Sharks being slow bottom feeders came into play, but this is simply not true.
Ok rant over, but it was with good intention as it support the rest of my article.
It does not matter where you are fishing in the world for sharks, if you follow this general guideline it should help you land more monsters and get more bites.
Also I am going to break this article down more than it needs to be, because one thing I have learned is you can never simplify something enough for the internet!
#1 The best bait for sharks, is not universal but more subjective to the area you are fishing.
For example here in SE Florida we have a variety of fish that make excellent shark baits, which include Stingrays, Bonito, mackerel, jacks, mullet, amberjacks and many more. However the best bait to fish changes daily as sharks feeding patterns change. If they have been feeding on mackerel off the beach for the past week, you can sure bet they are keened in on that fish and will generally reject other things you offer them ( This is not universal, but just a guideline). I have witnessed numerous times where sharks turn down bloody bonitos and other fish, simply because it was not what they were used to feeding on during that season or week. Take home message is FISH the bait that is found in the area you are going to be fishing, during the time of year you are going to be fishing!
#2 Size Doesn't always matter!
Ever see an elephant eat a peanut or think of a whale shark that feeds on krill? Well sharks often react the same way to their own food. People think sharks need giant baits to be enticed, but this is simply not true. I have caught the following 3 sharks below on 3-5lb chunks of amberjack, which is considerably small compared to the size of the amberjack they were cut from.
Reason to use Fresh Bait every time.
The size of your bait should be dictated by the fishing application! What this means is HOW and where you are fishing. For example if I were shark fishing off the beach and it was rough, with a lot of current. I Would need to fish a bigger bait 10+lbs for two reasons. #1 it simply adds weight to the rig and allows your line to stay tighter as your line is dragged under the pressure of the current and waves. #2 In rough surf conditions a small bait will get washed out, lose its oil/blood very rapidly leaving an essentially unpleasant offering to the shark. On a boat you can often can away with smaller baits as you have fewer variables to worry about in terms of crabs picking at your bait, current, surf and having a bait big enough to weigh down your rig. When its calm I prefer to fish a smaller bait in the 3-5lb range as it often allows for an easier hook set, and who doesn't like making their bait last longer by cutting it into sections.The size of the bait should also be determined by whether you are casting or kayaking out baits. A casted bait simply cannot be too big to hinder the distance of the cast.
Also i wanted to mention that fresh bait is always the best bait and heres why!
#1 The bait is going to be firm, if iced properly, which allows for good hook placements without the hook ripping out.
Often times frozen baits become mushy and the hook will rip out of the bait too easily.
#2 Ask yourself if you would rather eat your fish fresh or frozen!
However Freezing bait is not bad and I have caught plenty of sharks on frozen bait, but i try to fish it well before it can become freezer burnt.
Take home message is to fish Fresh bait, that is caught locally in the area you are fishing and what the sharks have been feeding on. Don't overlook something as simple as what I mentioned and you should have good success on the both the beach and the sand!
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